Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

AZ Spa Rooms with a View

By: Edie Jarolim

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September 19, 2013

Book a soothing outdoor treatment for the ultimate in tranquility and relaxation.

About the author

Edie Jarolim

Edie Jarolim

Edie Jarolim is the author of three travel guides, including "Arizona for Dummies," and one dog guide, "Am I Boring My Dog?" Her book, "Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All," is a memoir about her career as a guidebook editor for Frommer’s, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s and as a Tucson-based freelance travel writer. Her articles about Arizona have appeared in numerous national publications, including "National Geographic Traveler," "Sunset," and "The Wall Street Journal."

Central and southern Arizona's year-round warm weather and beautiful landscapes make outdoor spa treatments a one-of-a-kind ritual. When seeking a signature spa experience, consider the following world-class spas where visitors can be soothed – or enlightened – alfresco.

Spa at The Boulders Resort

Where: Scottsdale

Take the serenity of the Sonoran desert and add a labyrinth: You’ve got the setting for The Boulders’ Shamanic experiences and Ayurvedic treatments, designed to help reduce stress and nurture connections with nature, body, and soul.

During guided meditations at the labyrinth, for example, participants are encouraged to contemplate a difficulty they would like to leave behind, symbolized by a stone they receive to carry through the maze.

Two women walk the Labyrinth at The Boulders Resort in Scottsdale, ArizonaCredit: Lonna Tucker

Sanctuary Resort Spa at Camelback Mountain Resort

Where: Paradise Valley

Imagine floating in warm water, cradled in the arms of a therapist who gently leads you in a slow dance, the light and shade of bamboo fronds playing against your closed eyelids. That’s just a hint of what to expect from Watsu, an aquatic version of Zen shiatsu highlighted at Sanctuary’s Asian-inspired spa. You can even experience it after dark, under a canopy of stars.

Also offered in the private heated pool is Lotus Flower Aquatic Reflexology. Here, a therapist releases energy through your hands and feet while floats are placed under your neck and knees to keep you buoyant. It doesn’t get much more laid-back than this.

L’Apothecary Spa at L’Auberge

Where: Sedona

A woman lays outside on a massage table beside a creek at L'Auberge in SedonaCredit: AOT

Sedona is known for its red rock formations, but the shady woodlands of Oak Creek Canyon, where L’Auberge de Sedona’s creekside spa treatments are offered, are equally breathtaking.

A three-sided cabana tent provides views of sparkling Oak Creek, as well as privacy for everything from a couples massage to energy healing – pretty much anything on the spa menu that doesn’t require electricity or running water. Be sure to call ahead to book the ultra-popular creekside treatments. They can be a challenge to schedule because they depend on the light as well as on the weather and because the lovely spot where they’re held is often bogarted by brides and grooms for wedding ceremonies.

Live in Balance Spa at Miraval

Where: Tucson

A woman gets a massage at MiravalCredit: Miraval

Designed to bond visitors with their Southern Arizona surroundings, a mini-village within Miraval’s spa complex, dubbed the New Live Village, is devoted exclusively to outdoor spa treatments. Each private unit has a patio and alfresco shower and is surrounded by a live ocotillo fence.

Among the specialty services unique to this spa-within-a-spa are the Mindful Massage, incorporating hot and cool stones and an assortment of mind-body techniques that are central to the Miraval philosophy; and Bountiful Earth, a sensual journey around the world that includes a Yucatan-inspired coco-mole clay wrap and ends in the Southwest with a massage using oils that hint of the woodsy scents of cedarwood and juniper.

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